Dear Church family,
One of our foundational beliefs as a community of faith is that we seek to be a space where all people are welcomed. As such, I know we have a variety of deeply held beliefs and thoughts around a great many issues. The issue at the forefront of my mind, and the reason for this communication, is wearing masks in public places. When we began to meet again in person, we decided that we would strongly encourage, but not require, masks at church. With the most recent data indicating a significant spike in COVID cases in Webster County, and many of these cases have come because of community spread, the Elders and I feel that the best way for us to care for one another at this time is to require a mask if you choose to worship with us in person. We are taking this step with the intention of continuing to be able to offer worship services both in person and virtually and avoiding another safer-at-home order.
Our policy will be in accordance with the ordinance enacted in Springfield. Children under the age of three are not required or expected to wear a mask. Children between three and eleven are strongly encouraged to wear a mask, and masks are required for those 12 and older. This includes those officiating in worship except for when speaking and able to maintain a physical distance of greater than six feet.
There are a few scriptures which have influenced this decision and inform how I believe we move forward as a community of faith, as siblings in Christ Jesus. They are:
Bear one another’s burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ. - Galatians 6:2
So then, whenever we have an opportunity, let us work for the good of all, and especially for those of the family of faith. - Galatians 6:10
If then there is any encouragement in Christ, any consolation from love, any sharing in the Spirit, any compassion and sympathy, make my joy complete: be of the same mind, having the same love, being in full accord and of one mind. Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility regard others as better than yourselves. Let each of you look not to your own interests, but to the interests of others. - Philippians 2:1-4
You must understand this, my beloved: let everyone be quick to listen, slow to speak, slow to anger; for your anger does not produce God’s righteousness. - James 1:19-20
I do not think any of us “likes” wearing masks, but we choose to because we know that there are those around us who are vulnerable. We bear a burden, we make a sacrifice, for the good of those around us. We look to the health and well-being of those around us, not to our own comfort and self-interests.
We encourage you to bring your own face mask, if you have one. However, if you do not have a face mask or if you forget yours at home (like I have done several times in the past months), we have several disposable masks that we would be glad to give to you. It is important that we reiterate the importance of participating at your level of comfort. If you do not want to wear a mask, please join us for worship virtually. If you are uneasy being around people at the church facilities, please take advantage of the streaming option. And, certainly, if you are experiencing any of the symptoms of COVID-19, help protect the family of faith by watching the video on our Facebook page. If you are comfortable joining with us in the sanctuary and wearing a mask during worship, we hope you will do so! Regardless of your level of comfort, please know you are a valuable part of our community of faith and that the Elders and I are praying for each one of you!
Because it is likely that we will be dealing with decisions around COVID-19 and the safety of the congregation, the Elders and I will continue to monitor the situation and be in regular contact (we anticipate touching base at least every other week) to respond to the situation as it changes. I would encourage everyone to be in prayer for all our government, business, school, and organizational leaders as we seek to navigate these stressful times.
Finally, due to the current spike in cases, we have also made the difficult decision to cancel our plans to have a fellowship lunch on August 2nd. We will still recognize mothers, fathers, and our graduate in worship that day, but it would be irresponsible for us to share a meal at this time. I have faith that we will, once again, be able to fellowship together around a meal. However, that is likely still several months in the future.
Thank you all for your continued support and dedication as we journey together with God.